Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whole lotta towin' goin' on

In addition to the usual ship berthings, that happen every day, there was some other interesting towing going on in Halifax today.

This morning the veteran tug Swellmaster and the smaller tug Atlantic Tamarack arrived with an interesting tow, consisting of the dredge D-6 and the scow HD-9. Cradled in the scow was the tug/workboat Irving Chestnut. The convoy originated in Montreal, where the dredge plant worked on and off over the past few years in the St.Lawrence Seaway.
Once in past George's Island, Tamarack moved the scow alongside the dredge and assisted in tying up at pier 7.

Lining up for the approach to pier 7, Atlantic Tamarack leans into the D-6.

Swellmaster is running out of water forward, and has her stern up against D-6 ready to let go the bridle. A puff of smoke from Tamarack's newly installed Cat engine drifts across the dredge.
Later in the day the D-6 crane lifted Irving Chestnut out of the scow and placed it in the water. [Update: this did not happen, she is still in the scow as of late in the day]

The plant is operated by Harbour Development Ltd, a division of Atlantic Towing within the JD Irving group of companies. See http://www.harbourdev.com/
For more on the dredge D-6 see Shipfax.

Soon after these evolutions, the tug Whitby moved three scows from pier 9 to pier 9 C to free the berth for a tanker tomorrow. The scow Harold M was the last to be moved. It can be used for dredging or piling when a small crane is mounted.

Whitby rounds the knuckle with Harold M on a bridle. When it was secured to the (as yet unknown) scow on the right, Whitby returned to pier 42 to tend to dredging operations there, with Beaver Delta II and the dredge Canadian Argosy.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Long, long ago, but not too far away

The Waterfront Development Corporation has named the parking lot adjacent to the tug dock, Foundation Place in recognition of its place in history.

1. A busy Foundation Maritime, ca. 1956

2. November 2010, the salvage shed remains, underutilized on the waterfront.

3. ca. 1970. In busier times, it was surrounded by wharves and activity, with the salvage tug Foundation Vigilant alongside.

4. Ad with Foundation Vigilant.

5. Ad with Foundation Franklin, heroine of Grey Seas Under.

Time was when Foundation Maritime was in the marine salvage business in Halifax. That all ended when they sold their last salvage tug, Foundation Vigilant, in the early 1970s. Successor Eastern Canada Towing Ltd did some light salvage work and emergency towing, but no longer maintained a salvage plant.

Svitzer, successor to Ectug, has no tugs in Halifax anymore, and the salvage shed sits forlornly on the waterfront, but for how much longer? The area to the south of the salvage shed was filled in years ago, and a new development will start construction in the spring. I doubt they will be thrilled to have that shed next to their new hotel/apartment/shopping complex - no matter what its history.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When the world was black & white

Built in 1962 for Foundation Maritime the tug Foundation Viking was one of six identical tugs built by Davie in Lauzon. When Eastern Canada Towing Ltd took over in 1973, the tug was renamed Point Viking. After working in and out of Halifax for many years it was then based in Port Hawksbury for a time until sold to Newfoundland owners for use in Stephenville.

In 2008 they sold the tug to Construction Polaris Inc of l'Ancienne-Lorette, QC. It has been assigned to their marine division, Polnav Transport Maritime and based at Natashquan, QC.

Polaris is a major civil engineering construction company, with considerable work on the Lower North Shore of the St.Lawrence where there a few roads. The tug is used to haul construction material and equipment to remote sites, and generally works between Sept-Iles and the Labrador border in season.

Point Viking is a single screw tug of 1,000 bhp, powered by a single Fairbanks-Morse engine.

In the photos it is seen working in Halifax harbour in 1979. At that time tugs worked with tow lines over the stern, using a quick release towing hook. They used ship's lines for unberthing. It took two deck hands to handle the ship's line. The ship dropped its line over and the ship's crew hook it then attach a heaving line to pull it aboard and connect to the towing hook. Once the ship is off the dock and clear, the hook will be dropped and the line will slide over the tug's stern to be recovered by the ship.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mary Steele

1. Mary Steele in Halifax June 13, 2004.
2. She is towing Superport Marine Service's scow SPM 125.

3. As Tignish, the tug is tied up at Queen's wharf in Halifax July 4, 1987.

4. Wearing the colours of DPW, she shows very nice lines.

5. As Techno-Rochette, the tug shares a berth with fleet mate Techno-Manic (built in 1932) at their home port July 16, 1978.

As promised, more on Superport Marine Service's Mary Steele.

Built at Lauzon, QC in 1972, iut was not built by one of the Davie yards, but by Eddy and Laetare Bargone. Of 51 gross tons, the tug was powered by a 365 bhp engine driving a single screw. The tug was built for Techno-Maritime Ltée and named Jacques Rochette. Techno owned several tugs, research vessels and barges, and in 1975, the tug was brought into line with other vessels in the fleet and renamed Techno-Rochette.

Techno went out of business and the tug was sold to the Canadian Department of Public Works and renamed Tignish in 1981. As the name implies the tug was stationed in Prince Edward Island, but did get around the rest of the maritimes towing dredging plant.

When DPW got out of dredging work Superport picked up the tug in 1996 and gave it the name Mary Steele. In Superport service it has been repowered with a 450 bhp Cat engine, but looks remarkably similar to its original self. I do note that watertight doors were added to the wheelhouse by DPW.

The tug has towed barges all along the Atlantic coast as far as Saint John, NB, and presumably to various points in Cape Breton and the Gulf of St.Lawrence.
Update: Mary Steele is reported to be in Saint John, NB on November 17. She was in Port Hawksbury November 12.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McNally activity at Halterm

1. Canadian Argosy at work off Halterm.

2. Beaver Delta II (left) sports a new coat of paint.

3. Whitby makes a shore run.

Dredging activity off the Halterm container pier continues, night and day. The tugs Beaver Delta II and Whitby are attending the dredge Canadian Argosy. Whitby is doing most of the work, moving the dump scows to the dump site, and Beaver Delta II assists in moving the dredge and running back and forth to shore and swapping empty scows.

The excellent weather over the past week end allowed for a little painting on Delta II so she now looks quite respectable.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Superport Marine Services at work

1. Strait Rider gets away from the company dock at Pirate Harbour, opposite Point Tupper, November 12.

2. Wikit backs away from the same dock. Pirate Harbour is just east of Mulgrave.

3. Wikit storms into the Canso Lock, close on the heels of Strait Rider.

4. Strait Rider enters the Canso Lock first. She has a tow line laid out on deck to take Wikit in tow for Pictou.

5. The two boats nudging the naval research vessel Quest on one of several attempts to haul the ship out on the newly rebuilt marine railway at Aecon-Fabco in Pictou. November 13.

Superport Marine Services Ltd of Port Hawksbury operates tugs, barges, pilot boats and research vessels in the Strait of Canso area. This includes the Bras d'Or Lakes and Northumberland Strait and occasionally farther away.

On Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13 I was fortunate enough to catch two of their tug/workboats in action. These are interesting boats, both built at the legendary Russel Brothers/ Russel-Hipwell Engines Ltd yard in Owen Sound, ON.

Strait Rider was built as Hollis IV in 1962. For a time it was owned by the yard (perhaps as a means of financing) but by 1967 by Hollis IV Ltd of Chatham, ON. It was never seen in Chatham to my knowledge, but was based at the Lake Erie port of Wheatley where it supported some drilling operations and was used as a workboat.
The boat was listed for sale for a time until acquired by Superport in the early 1990s. They rebuilt the boat in 1992 and again in 2002. It was also re-engined. I assume her original engines were Cummins (Russel-Hipwell was a Cummins dealer as well as a shipyard.) Her original 456 bhp was upped to 550bhp when two Detroit Diesels were installed.

Wikit was built by Russel in 1960 as Midgell for the federal Department of Public Works. She was a twin screw tug of 300 bhp. When the DPW started to sell off its dredging fleet, Superport acquired the tug and renamed it in 1992. They carried out a rebuild in 1993-94 and probably re-engined her at that time with the current 2 x 250 bhp GMs.
Superport also operates the tug Mary Steele, another former DPW tug, which has had towing assignments as far afield as Halifax and Saint John, NB. (It will be featured in a subsequent posting)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Florence M tow trouble

1. Florence M leaves the Pictou wharf to head out to the barge to begin salvage work, November 12.

2. Florence M lies alongside the grounded barge Sault au Cochon off Pictou. The calm conditions November 13 are far different from the storm on November 10.

The former Halifax tug Florence M was towing the barge Sault au Cochon toward Pictou, NS Wednesday, November 10 in storm force winds and high short seas when her tow line parted. The barge drifted ashore near Pictou Lodge and dumped much of her load of pulpwood.

The tug was built in 1961 as Foundation Vibert for service in Baie Comeau, QC. Built with the then revolutionary hydroconic hull form (using flat plates instead of compound curved plates) it was a product of the P.K.Harris yard at Appledore, North Devon, UK. A twin screw tug, she is powered by two 4 cylinder Fairbanks Morse (opposed piston) Diesels, each developing 666 bhp.

Her intended service was to work in Baie Comeau, QC in summer then move to Halifax for the winter. By the 1970s however, Baie Comeau remained open year round, and larger ships began calling there. The newly formed Eastern Canada Towing Ltd, renamed the tug Point Vibert in 1973.

In 1977 Cargill Grain had the V-S tug Pointe-Comeau built with Ectug as managers, for service at Baie Comeau. Point Vibert was transferred to Halifax. Despite its limited power, it served as #2 tug in Halifax until Point Chebucto was delivered in 1993. The tug then went to Port Hawksbury until Ectug (Svitzer) withdrew from the Strait of Canso.

In 2001 McKeil Marine bought the tug and renamed in Florence M. It has since had a towing winch installed and has been working in barge service on the Lower St.Lawrence and Gulf for the past several years.

The barge Sault au Cochon was built by Port Weller DD in 1968 with the barge Betsiamites and tug Atlanitc (later Laval and now Ocean Echo II.) They were used to shuttle pulpwood from Forestville, QC to the Anglo-Canadian paper mill in Quebec City. When that service was halted by later owners, Sault au Cochon was acquired by Sablico and used for sand and gravel transport during the construction of the Confederation Bridge to PEI. In 1995 while loading gravel at Forestville, Quebec the barge broke in half. The barge was completely repaired and later sold to McKeil Work Boats of Hamilton, ON.

It has returned to pulpwood transport in the past several years and has worked all over the Gulf and Lower St.Lawrence.

As of November 13 salvage operations were underway on the barge and its cargo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Atlantic Elm to retrieve tidal turbine

1. Atlantic Elm at Woodside in 2008

Atlantic Elm is due to tow the barge Open Hydro Installer from Halifax to a position near Parrsboro, NS to retrieve a tidal turbine. The experimental turbine was lowered to the seabed by the same barge last year as part of a pilot project to use the Bay of Fundy's tides to generate electricity.

The turbine was damaged at some point and will be raised by the special lifting gear on the barge and returned to Halifax for repairs.

Atlantic Elm has been kept busy this summer with northern supply work.
For more on the barge and turbine see:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mister Joe, also on the move

1. The pilot boat returns to base as Mister Joe tows Harold M inbound, with Gulf Spray attending (it delivered a deck crew to the scow) November 3.

2. Mister Joe tucked in at pier 9 with Beaver Delta II alongside. November 6.

3. Mister Joe, still with Beaver Marine insignia (file photo)

McNally Construction's Mister Joe is hustling to move marine equipment to Halifax. The powerful small tug has been in and out of Halifax several times in the past few weeks and sailed again this morning. Her latest arrival was November 3 with the dredge/scow Harold M. from Yarmouth.

She is now bound for Sorel to pick up a scow for Halifax and will apparently make one more trip to Halifax before the Canso Canal closes on December 1. The tug spent the summer working on a major pier extension in Belledune, NB, but will be in Halifax this winter to work on the Halterm extension project and the pier 9 piling project.
Built by Russel-Hipwell in Owen Sound in 1964 as Churchill River for Rupertsland Trading Co (Hudson's Bay Co), she worked in James Bay and Hudson's Bay until the mid-1990s. She was then sold to Churchill River Tug Co of Manuel's, NL, and worked on the Hibernia gravity base project (including construction of the building dock and harbour, at Bay Bulls.) She arrived in Halifax for the first time on June 7, 1997 when she was purchased by Beaver Marine. Beaver was a McNally subsdiary, but all vessels were integrated into McNally ownership in 2009. The tug was renamed Mister Joe in 2001 after the late founder of the company. A twin screw tug, she was built with 685 bhp Cummins engines and in 2002 she was re-engined with GMs totalling 750 bhp.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Swellmaster makes a short visit

The veteran tug Swellmaster made a brief visit earlier this week, when she arrived with the dump scow HD 6. They tied up at Harbour Development's berth a pier 7. She arrived either late October 29 or early October 30 (photo), but sailed again, light tug, Wednesday, November 3 bound for Montreal. She will pick up the dredge D.6 that has been laid up there and return to Halifax.

Since last seen the tug has acquired orange paint on her wheelhouse visor. This brings her into line with tugs of the parent company Atlantic Towing.

Built in 1965 as Atherfield the tug was acquired by Atlantic Towing in 1971 and renamed Irving Hemlock. She took her present name in 1996. A twin screw tug, she is rated at 2,040 bhp (on replacement Cat engines installed in 1987.)